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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  August 31, 2017 6:30am-7:01am PDT

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good evening from los angeles, i'm tavis smiley. a conversation with jazz artist. this year he is releasing three albums, the centennial trilogy to mark the 100th anniversary of recorded jazz. lz developed an app for people to record their own chops. all that coming up in just a moment.
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christian scott is a driving force in the next generation of jazz ardists. he is out this year with an ambitious project. he is marking the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recordings by releasing a trio of albums he calls "the centennial trilogy." it is an ambitious project. we are honored to have him back on the program. how you doing? >> good to see you. >> how is your mom and twin brother? family? >> everybody is good. >> you have a wonderful family. >> thank you. >> it's a great familiarly.
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and your ufrpg snl. >> uncle? >> he's great. i just saw him. he beat me up. i learned a lot. he can still give lessons. >> yes, sir. >> i think the last time you were here, maybe hushgs maybe you hadn't changed your name. >> no i hadn't. >> you had not changed your name. for those that knew you as christian scott, you're still christian scott. tell me what you did and why you did it. >> i always say i completed my name. by adding on atunde just to, you know, i wasn't comfortable exclusively navigating the world as scott. obviously i'm a world citizen. as a jazz musician or a practitioner in this culture of music, you get to travel the world. i've been touring since i was 14 years old. when you're in all of the different places and cultures, the way they react to our names, i learned it. it gave me a different context. so as i got older and started to tour more, maybe about 16 or 17
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years old, i started to feel it when people called me scott. it felt differently. it didn't feel like i was being called. and so i decided to complete i had name by adding a name. and these are names that have reverence or culture that i come from in new orleans, black, indian, african-american native culture. my ufrpg sl chief. i just became chief this year. my grand father is chief. i wanted to derussianize my name is a way that hashgens the culture that i hold dear. i also wanted to hold on to scott. it is important that people acknowledge and reference the fact that i'm aware of and they need to know what my actual history is here. you know, obvious lit way that we've got these certain names is kind of dense. right? and that wasn't a part of what i wanted to give to my children when they get here. right? and i don't necessarily know that they're going to be called ajua. when i get married or find a
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partner and have kids, i think we'll probably mutually decide what our family name will be. and then we'll let the children determine what the naming will be. but in the interim, i have that. >> when you hear yourself introduced in that way now, reference that way around the world, as you were starting to have issues with scott not feeling it to use your phrase. how does it feel now? >> it feels amazing. >> yeah. >> it feels, you know, obviously to me it's important to deal with the fact that we have a history that predates the american experiment. right? and you know, being from new orleans, this is something that is really important to people where i'm from. built because of their life realities, a lot of people are apprehensive or afraid to derussianize their names. a lot of time the moment that you do that you in some ways you become sort of an enemy to the state. >> right. >> a lot of people's mind's eye. you know, they think just general things. like if you're filling out a job
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complication and your name is a rolloff or a con name or automatically means something. you may not get a call back. that's one example. so, you know, for me, it was important to make the change. it was something that i felt i needed to do. now when i'm called, wheen i ev i'm called scott, it is not something that hurts. it's not something that feels strange anymore because this exists. i remember being a young person in school and they would say christian scott. and it would be strange, you know? obviously, my sir name is my father's name and his father's name. i love them very much which is why i kept it. because i love them so much. but i was -- it was time to make a move and change to make sure that my children -- >> let me ask you one more time about. this i know your family so well. if i'm getting too personal, you push me back. don't hit me. just push me jenltlgently.
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play me out. pun intended. play me out. how did your family react? >> you know, it's interesting. dpenldi dpen depending on the size of the family. most people were really happy that i did it. but they were scared for me. you know? when i first completed my name, it was sort of a charged moment in the jazz community. i was admonished. people tried to project me as a nationalist and came to conclusions about how i am as a person that were completely unreal. and the first bit of touring that we did, there were like threats, the call -- a lot of times the producers and promoters would say this is, you know, a threat that happened in different places. one time i showed up to a hotel and there was a figure that had been left on an ironing board that was a pejorative figure of a black person with a noose around the neck and said your
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name is not scott, it's nigger. so that was hard for the ladies many r in my family. the men understood it. >> so you said to the ladies, speaking of ladies in your family, women in your family, they were scared. you say they were scared. they were scared for you? scared for your safety? scared for the impact on your career? >> yes, absolutely. >> just because you changed your name? >> yeah. that even happened with a lot of other musicians. they say why you would do that? are you crazy? like you'll never work again. and my thing is like, if this is the rational for me not working with all of that i have sacrificed and tried to develop and what we're trying to do to re-evaluate the way we communicate in this music, then i don't want to work. >> the reason i'm pressing on this is because kareem abdul-jabbar sat in this chair not too long ago. and i -- >> talk about rub it out. >> this will really make you do
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that. muhammed ali sat in that chair. i mean ali changes his name and he catches all kinds of hate. abdul-jabbar changed his name, he caught some as well. but that was years ago. >> yeah. >> i'm just surprised on some level to hear that an artist of your note and stature would get that kind of push back for as you say completing your name. >> yeah. you know, look at what just happened with lebron's house. i mean, you know, obviously still a lot of work to be done. >> yeah. yeah. i'm getting personal again. tell me. >> it's all good. >> when you first walked on this set years ago, first time i saw you, there was a young lady that came with that you day. you know what i'm talking about? >> yes. >> i want to ask. i haven't asked. you have obviously soared to heights. she has soared to heights. >> yes. >> the two of you were dating. >> yeah, we were dating. >> i get a kick out of that. what do you make of the success that she's had? >> what is crazy about it --
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>> is that too snernl. >> no. what is great is i know how hard we all worked. right? i think a lot of times, you know, when people are looking at that environment, they -- what they come up with is topical. and they like to make excuses for why she is as successful as she is. i heard people say she's getting it because she's beautiful. she works harder than everyone else. right? you fast forward. you look at what robert glassburg has done or steefrn bruner. i think a lot of times people don't realize the proximity that we have to each other like some of the greatest practitioners of this culture of music and this generation, they're all family. and that existed in the past. i think it's a little different than that. most of us knew each other when we were children and perfect we could really play that well. right? i met her when she was on 17. i was 18 years old. i know stephens said he was a little kid.
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so when i look at in a moment, i obviously had my heart opens up and i'm the proudest person on the planet. i know -- i remember whether this person was 17 years old and wake up at 5:00 in the morning and practice for four or five hours before anyone knew any of our name. right? so when you see what is grown out of that, you can't help but be proud. >> what's cool about that too, it's not that story. i don't mean to demonize or cast asuspicious on the hip hop culture buchlt in the jazz culture, it's much more family and collaborative. so it's nice to hear the stories. >> i you this a big part of it is, you know, i think as a culture misnomer, what we do as s. about re-evaluating -- a constant re-evaluation of the way we're communicating. we do it as a collective. right? so obviously i demo the app and play today, right? that's just me playing by myself with this template that we
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created. but 99% of the time when i'm playing, there's at least four other seven, eight, nine other musician that's are also making this music. so it's becomes easier to build that sort of family type space when you have to rely on each other to actually communicate. so i think that is partly why it is a little different. >> that makes sense. and the app that christian referenced, don't go anywhere. this thing is amazing. this app that they created for anyone that loves music, plays music, you'll want to see him demonstrate the app. you are going to play with the app he created. stick around in about seven minutes just to see the demonstration of the app and more over to hear christian play alongside it. now to that point, tell me about this three part project. this is, as i said, ambitious. >> yeah. yeah. so we -- the centennial trilogy. this say document that i wanted to make to commemorate the first 100 years of this music's history. but that also looks to
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re-evaluate the way we communicate with the listener now. i think for most people that enjoy jazz music or listen to this culture of music, part of what i've seen is there's this idea sort of this notion that floats around in this culture that all of the best jazz records already exist. or have already been made. i think a lot of times even as i say that i can feel it dawning on people that they feel that way. >> do you feel that way? >> i don't. >> is that intimidating for people to even -- >> it's strange. >> it is intimidating to know that people feel that way? the best of, kind of blue culture. >> that's weird. i never thought about that. no, not realy. i think, you know, the thing for me is when you think about this music, it's like any other thing. you know, if you take bob koozy and steph curry and put them in a gym, my money son steph curry, right? but it's mainly because steph had the opportunity to watch bob koozy. right? so the music is the same.
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obviously i'm huge as miles davis fan can you think of. i obviously gillespie's playing. but what this generation has had an opportunity not only to study their contribution but to study the practitioners that studied them and the next generation and the guy who generation after that. so obviously there's things that we have the opportunity to showcase and we've had the opportunity to develop that they couldn't based on the time that they inherited it, right? but i think having this sort of notion that there's a cap on what jazz has the potential to be is sort of strange to me. it is essentially very young form. you know? so we wanted to make these records to look at that moment but to try and take the music into new vernacular to create new vernacular, new modes of operating, new sonic realities for the music. so essentially what we're also
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looking to do is we're trying to take all of this seemingly desperate forms of music that have grown out of jazz. you think of jazz and blues are really synonyms for each other. this is the same culture. my teachers when i was a little boy would say that jazz is just blue that's refined itself to exist in all context. and blues not in terms of like melancholy, whoa is me music but blues as in how i learned as a little boy in new orleans which is the most sincere thinking r thing that can you xaek vat in a moment of communicating through muse sick blu music is blues. you take jazz and blues and that is race music. then that evolved into rhythm and blues, r&b music and that evolved into rock 'n' roll music. you have all of the different cultures that have grown out of jazz. what we're looking to do in the centennial is go about the business of reacculturating all of the vernacular so that we can figure out the next century is worth of communicating. >> say a word to me before you
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get to this demonstration of this app. tell me about the three parts of the trilogy. >> absolutely. >> first part came out in march. >> first one is -- that is ruler rebel. this one is identifying who you're listening to. obviously my identity politics being from new orleans, you know, coming up in afro native-american culture and tradition. i just became chief of the braves this year. this say big part of my identity politics. so i want to start off sort of by showcasing that. it directly relates to the beginning of this music's history. obviously, this this is the culture that was in kongo square when the seeds of music were starting. there are documents of lewis armstrong and baby talking about sing the great cheese singing there and some people say that lewis' phrasing sounded like the great chiefs. so taking those moments and identifying who you're listening, to right, the second record is diaspra. i mean that in a macro cosmic sense.
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i think this generation has a profound opportunity and we can be the generation that irrad indicates the social ills in all these things. the way that happens is by us looking for the sameness as opposed to constantly illuminating the differences between cultures. and so this is essentially what we do is stretch music. the second record references that. it's like okay, we're going to put -- they influence them in this record where you can hear through rhythm from senegal and then that might be coupled with something that sounds like nordic pop music. might be coupled with the harmonic type. so this record is who is being spoken to and creatinging a marriage of the cultures to say that we belong together. then last record is called the emancipation procrastination. >> i love that title. >> emancipation procrastination. >> that is real as the title is. and deals with, you know, what
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we deal with not just in this country but in the world. we have to actually take a step back and re-evaluate the way we communicate, the way we interact with each other and we don't get to the place that we want to get if we constantly have -- if we're constantly fracturing and this tribalism stops us from freeing ourselves. right? so the last record is essentially the message. tell me what you make of jazz 100 years later? >> 100 years later. >> after the first recording. you know, what is great about jazz, when i was speaking to the interns earlier, what i was speaking about was that jazz is essentially the wore's first fusion music. it's the first music that actually references the fact that seemingly desperate perspectives and cultures belong in the same spaces. so when you look at the trajectory of how this music started and then look at that 100 years and can you find every
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other form of music, every other genre of music that ever existed on this world has a space in jazz music. can you find a jazz record at mix's polka music. i can find a jazz record that mixes salsa muse wick jazz music. so when i'm looking at that history it's hard not, to you know, for you to open up and not be so proud because it's essentially a music that is based on the idea that we you is love each other. >> so christian just taught a master c master class to you, me, and the interns. i thank you for that my friend. this centennial trilogy in and out various piece this is year. pick all three of them up. i promise you that they come out in september. >> yes, sir. >> they're on the way. get all three before the year is over. i think you'll be empowered and inspired and entertained by all three. speaking of entertaining, christian is going to close us out with a special perm formance
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of his song called twin using the stretch music app which he's going to demonstrate. this is pretty amazing stuff. christian, love you, man. that's our show tonight. keep the faith. here comes christian. >> stretch music the app is the first interactive media player. it allows you to customize your practicing or listening experience through manipulation of the stems of the tracks in the songs of stretch music. right? so i've given an example of that. all right. so we're going to play a song called twin. i'm going to customize this guy so can you hear it. here we go. ♪ so let's say you want to play piano and you want to le piano part without hearing the other instruments. can you solo any other
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instrument. you can also solo groups of instruments. all right. you also have the ability to mutiny instrument. so let's say you want to take the drums out and play without the rhythm section in that way. you can a a trumpet out. or you can take all the drums out. all right. you also have the ability to pan instruments from left to right. so i can most bass to the left, the guitar to the right. it also comes with the charts for all of the instruments. so you can see this is the chart for this particular song, composition. so if i bring everything else back. ♪ there is also a looping
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function. so if i want to play a smaller passage as opposed to the entire composition, i can start a loop here. give it a bar or two. and then i can repeat that loop. ♪ so just loop that moment. you turn the loop off. and tlaevent thihen the last th tempo control. so let's say you can't play the tempo at first and you want to play it slower. then you can slow it down. or if you want to play it faster, you can play it faster. ♪ or really fast. ♪ all right. so again, we have the ability to solo any instrument or groups of instruments to mutiny instrument, to pan any instrument from left to right, it comes with a charts of all of the instruments. there is also a looping function
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and tempo controlling. so this is essentially what the stretch music app is all about. ♪ ♪
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♪ [ applause ]
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- today on america's test kitchen: julia makes spanish braised chicken, jack challenges chris to a tasting of israeli couscous, and bridget makes israeli couscous salad. right here, on america's test kitchen. america's test kitchen is brought to you by dcs. dcs: manufacturers of professionally styled indoor and outdoor kitchen equipment.

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